Bulgaria’s government approved on November 25 a tougher set of measures to reduce the number of coronavirus cases in the country, which will go into effect at 11.30pm on November 27 and remain in force until December 21.
The decision comes two days after Health Minister Kostadin Angelov made a proposal in that sense, but the measures announced by Angelov after the Cabinet’s sitting were less stringent than initially suggested.
The current epidemic state of emergency, which would have expired on November 30, is extended to January 31 2021, two months short of Angelov’s proposal.
In-person classes in kindergartens, schools and universities would be suspended for a period of two weeks, as would extracurricular activities.
Night clubs, discos and other entertainment venues would remain closed, the sole exception being theatres, which can operate at 30 per cent capacity, with spectators socially distanced and wearing masks.
Restaurants, bars and other daytime entertainment venues would shut down, but an exception would be made for takeaway and home delivery services at restaurants.
Conferences and other public events would be cancelled, but privately-organised festivities and gatherings can go ahead, limited to 15 people. Angelov’s initial proposal called for cancelling such festivities.
Gyms would also shut down, as would training and competitions for under-18s. Other sports events, which were set to be cancelled under the initial proposal, can go ahead behind closed doors.
Stores in shopping malls would close, with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies, opticians, pet stores, post offices, banks, insurance companies, payment services providers and telecoms.
Stand-alone shops, including large retail stores, will remain open, Angelov said. “Everything that is not listed is allowed to operate,” he said. He specifically pointed out that places of worship and parks would remain open to the public.
The restrictions were meant to restrict the number of cases, which would allow people to celebrate the winter holidays with some degree of peace, Angelov said. A reduction in cases would also help relieve the pressure on medical personnel, with more than 2000 currently infected in the country.
Angelov said that depending on the effect of the measures, the restrictions could be eased starting December 21, but would not be lifted automatically.
(Bulgaria Health Minister Kostadin Angelov announces the tighter restrictions approved by the government on November 25. Screenshot from Bulgarian National Television)
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